Like many other industries in the Lehigh Valley, farming has undergone major changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Camel’s Hump Farm in Bethlehem, for example, was forced to cancel most of its summer programs due to safety concerns.
“We do a lot of summer events here, and we couldn’t do that this year,” said Liz Doyle, a volunteer at the farm. “Summer camp for the kids is one of the big ones, and this year we could only take two or three kids.”
Like Camel’s Hump Farm, other Bethlehem farmers were forced to turn to alternative sales and business methods in order to stay open.
Clear Spring Farm in Easton created a less hands-on approach to grocery shopping by picking produce for their customers.
Terry Kromer, a co-owner of Clear Spring Farms, said the changes have made her work more labor intensive.
“People used to come in and be very hands-on,” she said. “If they wanted to pick up a tomato and feel it, they could. We have had to turn everything completely backwards and do it for them.”
Clear Spring Farm also created an online store in March in order to attract customers unable or unwilling to go to local grocery stores.
The online store allowed for a socially distant exchange between customers, enabling them to pick up a pre-prepared bag of groceries through their car window.
The store, which can be accessed through the Clear Spring Farm website, sells products ranging from fresh produce to honey extracted from their own beehives.
Grace Warner, an employee at Black River Farms in Bethlehem, said it has faced similar challenges.
Warner said the local Bethlehem vineyard and winery, which normally conducts wine tastings, was initially only able to do bottle sales.
Warner said the way Black River Farms does wine tastings now has been the biggest change to the business.
“The taste room is now only outdoor seating, and all of us have to wear masks,” she said. “We also aren’t requiring anyone to order food with their wine tasting anymore.”
Even with the changes to the industry, Kromer said Clear Spring Farms’ sales have gone up dramatically.
“Recently, people have been coming out far more than we ever anticipated,” she said.
Kromer and Warner attribute the recent spikes in demand to Lehigh Valley residents becoming more aware of local businesses.